Aviation in Miami: The First 100 Years

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  SELLING — Iconic Aviation Figures

A number of leading city and aviation officials worked to promote Miami’s prospects as an aviation center. Among them were Glenn Curtiss, Reginald Waters, E. G. Sewell and others who formally established the Greater Miami Airports Association (GMAA) in July 1927. The construction of a permanent airport was its main long-term goal.

Glenn Curtiss1953-001-39.

Glenn Curtiss

Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss started Miami first two flying schools, was a founding member of the GMAA and developed the cities of Hialeah, Miami Springs and Opa-locka.




Amelia Earhart

In 1937, Amelia Earhart launched her fatal around-the-world flight here in Miami but prior to that she visited Miami twice as a guest promoter for the aviation industry. During her first visit in 1932, she attended the opening ceremonies at Miami’s 36th Street Airport and helped promote the All American Air Maneuvers and during the second, she delivered a speech to a local organization. Earhart’s accomplishments encouraged women and children to feel safer about flying.


Charles Lindbergh

Pilot and aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh became the aviation industry’s biggest celebrity. As a pilot for Miami-based Pan American World Airways, he mapped routes and inaugurated flying service to increasingly distant Latin American destinations. His heroic image served to enhance the popularity and mystique of air travel. 

Charles Lindbergh’s successful New York to Paris flight on May 20, 1927, completely changed the way that Americans looked at aviation. For Wall Street investors, this seemed to be the signal that finally there was money to be made in aviation beyond the military and mail.


Eddie Rickenbacker

During World War II, Eddie Rickenbacker and his B-17 crew ditched in the Pacific Ocean. They survived 21 days at sea before being rescued. Rickenbacker’s inspirational account is sometimes still quoted. His heroic image sold the flying public on the idea that “Captain Rickenbacker would be watching out for them.” Eddie Rickenbacker later became an executive for Miami-based Eastern Airlines.

Portrait given by Eddie Rickenbacker to Miami Herald editor Frank Shutts. Circa 1918. Frank Shutts Collection, HistoryMiami. 1953-001-23.

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